Finland in a brand new situation at EC 2010

Category: European Championship - published 2010-07-21 by SAJL

Finnish head coach Tuomas Heikkinen admits that the five-time European champions head to Germany with a different status than before.

"These will be my seventh European championships, and Finland is in a situation like never before. The nineties are nothing but a memory, and now we are the challengers and underdogs. Understanding this can be one of our strengths", the former national team defensive lineman says.

"In our training camps we have focused on the physical aspects of the game and the emphasis have been on basic skills. The games in the EC will be more physical and more basic than in the national leagues. That is due to two reasons: there are no Americans making the big plays and the talent on the field is by average better than in our own league. So the meaning of a single player beating his opponent is more important than in games where the Americans are the X-factors."

Quarterback play is of course crucial to every team, but the focus will be even stronger than usual on the young Finnish quarterbacks. After the retirement of Petrus Penkki, one of the best European quarterbacks ever, the position has been wide open. Heading into the training camp, the starting quarterback spot will be up for grabs between four 18-20 year
olds: Janne Lehtinen, Miro Kadmiry, Santeri Supi and Joonas Andersson. Of the four, Lehtinen has the most experience at the national team's quarterback. He spent last season playing in a Junior College in the United States. Andersson and Supi are starters for their teams in the Finnish Maple League, while Kadmiry runs the offense of TAFT Vantaa in the Finnish second league.

Heikkinen names the linebackers as his team's strongest unit.

"I believe that our linebackers will be among the best in the European Championships, but in other areas we have to rely on discipline and smart play".

The key linebackers will be Santtu Äyräväinen who played in Germany last season, Efe Evwaraye, Kalle DaSilva and the veteran Aarno Sjöblom.

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